We understand the motivations behind this measure — Muni drivers are the only city employees who don't have to engage in collective bargaining for wages and work rules. Instead, the City Charter guarantees them the second-highest salary level of all comparable transit systems in the nation. Although that's not an unreasonable salary level given that Muni is perhaps the country's most challenging transit system and San Francisco has one of the highest cost of living price tags in the country, no city workers should have their salaries set this way.
We also agree that many of Muni's work rules need to be changed and that removal of the salary guarantees would give the city more leverage to make those changes. We even agree that Transport Workers Union Local 250 hasn't done itself any favors and should have been a better partner in this year's difficult city budget process.
But we oppose Prop. G, which inappropriately seeks to blame Muni's problems on its drivers and would set a new standard for collective bargaining that could hurt workers and perhaps make Muni more dangerous to pedestrians and others.
Like all city employees, Muni drivers are banned from going on strike. In exchange, the city agrees to binding arbitration if contract talks reach an impasse. But this measure adds a factor that exists in no other city union contract: the arbitrator would have to consider whether a proposed contract could negatively affect service.
While that might seem benign or even appropriate, the reality is that everything from driver rest breaks to assisting those with disabilities to the expectations of how fast drivers can complete a route all potentially affect service, forcing the arbitrator into positions of agreeing with city officials who have been choosing the politically expedient path of trying to squeeze more out of Muni without trying to give it the resources it needs to operate safely, efficiently, and reliably.
Earlier this year, progressive supervisors tried to craft an omnibus Muni reform measure that removed driver pay guarantees from the charter while also trying to get it more money and make critical changes in how the system is governed, an effort the TWU supported but that the supervisors ultimately abandoned. That's the kind of balanced approach the system needs and it ought to be revived. In the meantime, vote no on G.
LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS ON POLITICAL PARTY COMMITTEES
This one's a pure political vengeance act by Mayor Newsom, who is unhappy that the local Democratic Party is controlled by progressives who oppose his initiatives. The measure would bar elected officials in San Francisco from serving on the Democratic or Republican County Central Committee. It's almost certainly unconstitutional — the parties get to decide their own membership rules — and has no rationale at all except the mayor's personal sour grapes. Vote no.
Okay, we're suspicious of Prop I. The sponsor is Alex Tourke, a political consultant whose client list isn't exactly a roster of progressive San Francisco. And it's a little funky — it calls for an experiment in opening the polls the Saturday before the next mayoral election, with the costs covered by private donations. And the idea of private interests paying for an election strikes us as bad policy.
But at its base, the idea is sound. Tuesday voting is a very old idea that makes no sense in the modern age. We'd much rather see Election Day held at a time when most people aren't working. In fact, we'd rather see the polls open for a week, not just one day. And this is a one-time test to see if weekend voting might increase turnout. Vote yes.